BIOS corrupted… or is it?

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Anic297

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Jan 10, 2013
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Hello!

Since before Christmas, I've been installing a computer for a friend (one from 1999 (the computer, not the friend ;))). The installation was going well, despite the lack of a battery for the CMOS settings. In a garbage, I had found a graphics card that someone thrown away, which was better than the one already installed, so I put this one instead and it worked fine, unexpectedly (this may be relevant to the story).

So, some days later, after I had finished installing and configuring WinXP, I needed to restart the computer from a CD, to use a partition utility (the current partition having been created too small). Because I use an USB keyboard, I had to enter the CMOS setup and enable “Allow USB keyboards”. I did that and saved the change (I already went into the CMOS several times in the past few days).
The boot resumed but the computer blocked at “Verifying DMI pool data”; even the cursor ceased to blink. So I restarted it and, instead of starting normally, the speaker played two tones, one at a time (without the user's manual, how do I figure out what these tones mean?), and the screen stayed black (in “sleep” mode). My first thought was that the new graphics card wasn't functioning correctly, so I plugged the older one back and removed the new one. I restarted the computer, which again played the 2 sad tones, but this time I saw some text on the screen.
However, this isn't the expected text. I don't get the logo about something like “Eco Star” or whatever it's called (I use mainly Macs, so I don't remember this name; sorry) and the step to count and validate the RAM doesn't happen either. The <press Del to enter setup> prompt does not appear either, and pressing Delete expectedly does nothing.
Instead, the prompt shows this (slightly reworded):
<BIOS version>
BIOS ROM checksum error
No keyboard present
No bootable disk in drive A: Insert system disk and hit enter

There's no keyboard plugged; plugging one makes it unrecognised (I only have USB keyboards). However, the other messages are misleading:
First, why does it only try to boot from A:? (if it can list devices at all, it should see the hard disk or the CD drive, not only the floppy drive, right?)
Second, since the computer froze at “Verifying DMI pool data” (the first time, since this isn't reached anymore), how can this line corrupt the BIOS?

Then, I tried restarting without the hard disk, the CD drive (I disconnected their IDE cables) and all the PCI cards, except the graphics card, of course, to no avail: same tones, same behaviour.
Now, trying to find the culprit… I don't think it's a CPU problem (the computer wouldn't even start). I plan to check the RAM soon, but I have not much hope it's the problem.
Since I did no BIOS update/flash (except just setting the “Allow USB keyboards” in the CMOS), I hardly believe either of them (BIOS or CMOS) is corrupt; else, it's a too-much weak component!

I've searched in various forums, but I haven't found posts with the exact same issue. Either they only mention hangs at the “Verifying DMI pool data” step and resolve the problem by going into the CMOS (which the computer doesn't let me do) or they are about BIOS corruptions, which they solved by booting from a firmware update CD (my computer doesn't try to start from the CD drive).

Now, I'm puzzled; Advices highly welcome!

P.S: I tried to find the brand of this machine, but there's really none printed, except “Intel” on various chips. Weird. It's a desktop computer (tower) from 1998, that's all I know (and it's white…)
 

dustyjay

Jay
Joined
Jan 23, 2003
Messages
12,661
Since the CMOS battery is missing, each time the computer is reset or restarted the bios is going to default to factory settings. Most likely the CMOS Battery is a CR2032 that would only cost a few dollars at any Radio Shack or Walmart.
See if you can borrow a PS2 Keyboard so you can change and save the settings. Also when making the bios settings you need to change the boot order to CD first, Hdd second, unless you need to use the floppy drive first for installing the OS.
 

Anic297

Thread Starter
Joined
Jan 10, 2013
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10
Since the CMOS battery is missing, each time the computer is reset or restarted the bios is going to default to factory settings. Most likely the CMOS Battery is a CR2032 that would only cost a few dollars at any Radio Shack or Walmart.
In the meantime, I've bought such a battery. However, I was a little lazy (big mistake) and I decided I'd install the battery when I finish installing the whole computer (because I've dealt a lot with Mac laptops these months, I had in mind that the CMOS would not be lost as long as the power cable stayed plugged-in (in laptops, there's a single battery); I thought too fast).
See if you can borrow a PS2 Keyboard so you can change and save the settings.
I thought I had one at home, but I can't find it (perhaps I gave it to someone). However, I have the feeling that the USB keyboard is not the only problem to enter into the setup: I don't see the <press Del key to enter setup> prompt; can it be possible the computer just sees the BIOS is damaged so it doesn't allow to enter in the CMOS setup?
(being a primary Mac user, I don't know how things go when the BIOS is corrupted)
Also when making the bios settings you need to change the boot order to CD first, Hdd second, unless you need to use the floppy drive first for installing the OS.
Yes, this is something I already know. However, in the current, unmodifiable, setup, after it tries to boot from the floppy, it doesn't try to boot from the HD or the CD drive (and I've never seen a BIOS where only the floppy is a bootable option).

Thanks very much for your reply!
 

dustyjay

Jay
Joined
Jan 23, 2003
Messages
12,661
Please post as much as you can about system specs, To include Make and model System if Big Box, or same info for the following if custom or home built, Mother Board (including Revision number), Processor (Exact Model Number), Ram, Video Card, Hdd(s), Optical Drive(s), Power Supply Manufacturer Model, Wattage and Amperage on the +12V Rails, OS, and any other peripherals installed on the motherboard.
 

Anic297

Thread Starter
Joined
Jan 10, 2013
Messages
10
Ok, I'll do that (once I collect all the data). I'll answer saturday, as I'll be busy this friday (I'm going to be 30…).
Thanks.
 

dustyjay

Jay
Joined
Jan 23, 2003
Messages
12,661
Answer when you can, I will be notified by email when you do. Hopefully we can get this figured out.
 

Anic297

Thread Starter
Joined
Jan 10, 2013
Messages
10
Hello,

So, I've searched for most data I could (remember I can't enter the BIOS nor see the DMI data). I've been more busy than expected, thus my long delay.

Mother board: GA-686LX rev 1D; ATX; Some screws are missing. There are jumpers on it, but I don't know what they are for; interesting.
RAM: 3 slots used; amount not determined (not written on them, and no access to the BIOS).
CPU: Intel Pentium || with MMX on an AGP-like slot; exact model not yet found (CPU is enclosed; I'll try further if really needed).
Graphics card 1: PCI; ATI Technologies, 1994; MACH64 model
Graphics card 2: AGP; gigabyte GA-622-32
Hard disk: Seagate 3227 MB; comes from my own stock of disks.
Optical drive: LG
Power Supply: JNC; LC-230ATXV2; Amperage (+12V): 7A. Total wattage (output): 230W
OS: XP/2000 (XP will be the last remaining one)
Network card: GTS FC-205LS
There's also a RS-232 Card (not used on Macs, so I don't know the name of such cards).

Is there another data needed?
Thanks
 

Anic297

Thread Starter
Joined
Jan 10, 2013
Messages
10
Hello,

Is it possible you didn't get a notification? I have no problem in waiting, but I just wanted to remove this possibility (that you got no notification) off my list.
Regards
 

dustyjay

Jay
Joined
Jan 23, 2003
Messages
12,661
You are going to need a PS2 Keyboard to access the BIOS Settings. Even with the new battery in it, the BIOS is set to default.
 
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